The 14 substances or products caught by the obligation, which also applies to products made from them except in the case of sulphur dioxide and sulphites, are:
- cereals containing gluten (namely: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut or their hybridised strains)
- tree nuts (namely: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia or Queensland nuts)
- sesame seeds
- sulphur dioxide and sulphites when the concentration of total sulphur dioxide in the whole prepared food is above 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre
Means of declaration
The allergen name, as listed above, should be given and emphasised in ingredients lists. Emboldening may be preferred, but this is not stipulated. Where there is no ingredients list a 'contains...' statement should be made.
Where the allergen is referred to in the name of the food, this alone satisfies the requirement.
Additional allergen advice statements can refer consumers to the ingredients list but not give the names of the allergens.
Food sold loose must be accompanied by allergen information.
Following risk assessment, some allergen derivatives have been exempted from the requirement, such as wheat-based glucose syrups and fully refined soybean oil.
Otherwise there are no exemptions. As it is food safety information, allergen labelling overrides any exemptions from declaration provided for elsewhere.
The legislation controls only intentionally used allergens. 'May contain...' statements are uncontrolled and permitted.
Claims that a food is 'gluten-free' or 'very low gluten' are specifically controlled whether the food is sold prepacked or loose. Gluten-free foods can have no more than 20ppm gluten. Foods containing ingredients that have been processed to reduce their gluten content can be labelled 'very low gluten' when they contain no more than 100ppm gluten. The terms 'suitable for coeliacs' and 'suitable for most coeliacs' can supplement the terms 'gluten-free' and 'very low gluten' respectively.
'No gluten-containing ingredients' may be used where cross-contamination is controlled but some risk may remain.
For more detailed information on allergens, visit the FSA's food allergy online training at http://allergytraining.food.gov.uk/.